Materialism, Atheism & Naturalism – The M.A.N. Made World

Naturalist will often argue that the theory of Intelligent Design (ID) isn’t verifiable because we can not “put God under the microscope,” thus they conveniently erect the self-serving impasse that if God can’t be put into a test tube then He must not exist, or simply doesn’t deserve any significant consideration. So If God were alive how does the naturalist presume one might conclude his existence? Its important to distinguish that advocates for ID do not claim to have God in a test-tube, they are simply arguing that ID is in inference to the best explanation.

Naturalism has befuddled itself with the materialistic concept of reality while dismissing the more important concept of actuality, what the naturalist have managed to do is to create a system or rhetoric which precludes their acknowledgment of Gods existence regardless if He actually does or doesn’t exist. It appears as if the naturalist are not concerned in discovering reality as much as they are seeking to preserve a materialistic ideology. It’s followers seem more predicated on defending the walls of their skepticism than expanding their horizons.

Our inability to falsify God hardly disqualifies Him from being true, if one wants  to assume that reality ends where the material stops, then by all means one is welcome to stay in it’s naturalistic conclave. Sir Arthur Eddington, an astrophysicist from the early 1900’s  exemplified this type of argument from incredulity when he said “Philosophically the notion of a beginning of the present order is repugnant to me. I should like to find a genuine loophole. I simply don’t believe the present order of things started off with a bang.. its preposterous.. it leaves me cold.”

The idea behind scientific theories is not to formulate a hypothesis which best conforms to our world view, but to see which explanation can best track the footprints of life back to its origins, technically speaking we will never be able to determine who or what actually caused those prints i.e. the existence of God or an unguided natural process, but we can most certainly tell which foot best fits the shoe.

The poster-boys for the ‘new atheist’ such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens hold the idea of an intelligent designer as superfluous in understanding how the universe began, thus the idea of God is nothing more than a delusion – or a disease as the more militant atheist would argue. However, the concept of design was actually the foundation for early modern scientist such as Kepler, Boyle, Galileo, Copernicus & Newton. The motto of such early scientist was intelligibility; they believed that they could study nature and make sense of it all – Why? because they believed science was intelligible to the human mind in that it was designed by a rational intellect.

Don’t doubt the Creator, because it is inconceivable that accidents alone could be the controller of this universe.” – Isaac Newton

The concept behind materialism is that matter and energy are the entities from which everything arises. Essentially there’s nothing beyond the physical world that exists; ultimately life evolved from non-living particles, thus there is no God and ultimately no purpose – only electrically charged signals blasting through our material brains. Proponents of such naturalistic and atheistic ideologies usually appeal to reason and science while arrogating to themselves the “high-ground” in the debate. Early evolutionary scientist didn’t have any problem with the idea of materialism because they assumed the world was infinite, that the origins of life and the solar system could simply be explained through a seamless materialistic account – Human life, simpler life, chemical life, elementary particles from eternities past. However, several scientific discoveries in the 20th century have brought this materialist thesis toppling down.

In 1935, Astronomer Edwin Hubble headed a startling breakthrough in the field of Cosmology; the great dome telescopes revealed to us that the universe was not eternal like scientist had once thought. Hubble discovered that not only were we just one out of an innumerable number of galaxies, but even more significant was that the light coming from these galaxies was being shifted in the magnetic spectrum, indicating that the light was coming from objects that were receding, revealing that the universe was expanding. This led cosmologist to contemplate, what happens if we begin to wind the clock backwards? if you go back a million years, a hundred-million years, etc. With each step backwards the universe would get smaller and smaller until eventually all matter was locked in a finite beginning; this discovery directly contradicted the materialistic view point that the universe is eternal and self-existent. After looking into Hubble’s telescope for the first time Albert Einstein famously stated

einstein

“I now see the necessity of a beginning”

Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the expanding universe had remarkable theistic implications in the field of astronomy and cosmology. Renown American astronomer, Allan Sandage reluctantly stated “Here is evidence for what can only be described as a supernatural event. There is no way that this could have been predicted within the realm of physics as we know it” Furthermore, leading NASA scientist and astronomer, Robert Jastrow famously said “This is an exceeding strange development unexpected by all but the theologians who have accepted the word of the Bible. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conqueror the highest peak, as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been siting there for centuries.”  

In 1968 Stephen Hawking solved Albert Einstein’s field equations of general relativity and further cemented Hubble’s discovery of a finite beginning. Hawking proved that if you go back in time you eventually reach a point where the curvature of spacetime becomes so tight that it becomes infinitely tight, a circle so tight that it has no volume. Thus we come to the question asked by Stephen Meyer “how much stuff, can you fit in zero space?” obviously no stuff goes into no space, Thus we can see how the ‘big-bang’ theory coupled with general relativity describes both a beginning in time and a beginning in space and matter.

“Hubble’s discovery on the expansion of the universe was one of the most important intellectual discoveries of the 20th century, or of any century. It transformed the debate about whether the universe had a beginning. If galaxies are moving apart, they must have been closer together in the past.. Many scientist were still unhappy with the universe having a beginning because it seemed to imply that physics broke down. One would have to invoke an outside agency, for convenience sake, one can call God.” – Stephen Hawking

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A World Suffering From Evil

Carry-Your-Cross

We live in a world plagued with suffering, a world where evil wanders to and fro, preying on the innocent and the weak, chaos howls like the wind, and death hangs ominous like stormy weather. How can a loving God tolerate so much injustice? How could such wickedness be permitted? In order to answer these questions we first need to understand why we were created. Were we put here merely to display the glory and power of God’s sovereignty? Or is there a deeper and more intimate purpose for why we are standing here today?

At the heart of every human being is the overwhelming desire to love and to be loved. Thus it is not sufficient that we love someone if the gesture is not reciprocated, in order for us to find fulfillment the affection must be mutual – that harmony between loving and being loved. The scripture tells us that we were made in the image and likeness of God himself; thus if our heart is merely to be a reflection of His heart, what then does this tell us about our created purpose? The Bible often uses the metaphor of God as a loving husband and the church as His bride. It has been depicted to us in manner which we can relate to; we can imagine those who are closest to us – whether a spouse, a child, or a good friend – just as we desire companionship in this way, so God desires it from us.

An honest and genuine relationship is deeply rooted in the ability to choose. True intimacy could never be coerced, just as you could never force someone to be your friend. Love suspended in complete and utter free-will is the mark of authenticity, no strings-attached. Because love is not a feeling that can be imposed, rather it’s an individuals personal decision. Sure God could have created a world of robots where everyone bowed down and worshiped him; but in order for our relationship to be meaningful and authentic it must hang in the balance of free-will. He has already chosen us, now we have to decide whether we’re going to choose Him.

There is no reason why we should have desired anything else other than to faithfully love God all the days of our lives. A relationship with God is the most satisfying existence that we could ever experience. But it was Satan, the father of lies who came in and seduced us that we should deny our first love and give ourselves over to sin. Thus the extent to which our love was real and authentic, so now is the extent of our evil and wickedness. There are no strings-attached to our evil just as there are no strings-attached to our love. There is no limit on the wickedness of man; at one end of the spectrum we have perfect unfailing love, and at the other end we have callous and cold-blooded murder. God created man with free-will knowing all the while that if we should choose to turn away, the ramifications would be without measure.

sad jesus

Genesis 6:5 “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and the Lord was sorry that He made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart

But the Lord did not distance Himself from our suffering, rather He became apart of it. Fredrick Nietzsche once said “The gods justified human life by living it themselves – the only satisfactory response to evil ever invented” Nietzsche was speaking of the Greek deities, he never drew the same connection to Jesus. The Lord is ever present and deeply concerned in the affairs of man, but He won’t step in and stop us from being wicked anymore than He we would ever force us to love Him. We know that God has the power to preserve the righteous and the power to destroy the wicked, the time is coming when the Lord will put all evil beneath him and cast it into the lake of fire, He has promised to come back and deliver His children from the wrath of the wicked, but He is waiting, delaying his return, for time is mercy that the lawless might come unto repentance.

Intelligent Design vs Evolution: The Origins of Life

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How did life originate? did we appear from simple non-living chemicals? or was life designed? Those who argue from the corner of chemical evolution generally appeal to neo-darwinian evolution in attesting to an unguided process; that natural selection sifts through random mutations and identifies the most sufficient forms and system’s for life’s continuation. While those arguing from Intelligent Design (ID) argue that living systems can best be explained by the activity of a designing intelligence not an undirected natural process such as natural selection acting on random variations.

Richard Dawkins one of the leading spokesman for neo-darwinism says that

“Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.”

The keyword here is “appearance”, is this idea of appearance illusory or is it real? While Dawkins and other evolutionist certainly acknowledges that life looks intelligently designed, is it possible that intelligence is in inference to the best explanation? I believe it is for several reasons which I would like to briefly explain – and no I will not be calling my faith up to the stand.

Firstly I would like to touch on the idea of specified complexity or digital information. In order to create new anatomical novelties you need new genetic code, thus generating a new biological form requires lots of new information or specified arrangements; much like you need new information to give your computer a new function. Thus a critical question in the history of life, both to the point of the origin of the first life and explaining the rise of the new forms, is where did all the information come from?

This is what ex-chemical evolutionary theorist Dean Kenyon described as a huge intellectual road block which ultimately led to his conversion to ID. He says that amino acids can’t organize themselves in a meaningful biological sequence without a pre-existing set of genetic instructions. Kenyon explains that the enormous problem that is neglected is the origins of genetic information itself. Wen you begin to think in light of information, it raises some serious questions about the power of mutations. Could an unguided process of random mutations possibly be responsible for life as we know it?

Genes are sections of genetic code, if you take a section of genetic code, a section of alphabetic text, and you begin to randomly change it blindly, are you more likely to degrade the meaning of the function that’s there or enhance it? How rare or common are the functional sequences of genes in relation to all the possible ways of arranging the base characters (genetic message) in the proteins? If it were fairly common then you could skip from one island of functionality to the next. However, the ratio of number of sequences that perform functions that are meaningful to those that don’t is about 1 to one-trillionth. I know crazy right? But it doesn’t stop there because in order to get a new organism you would need hundreds if not thousands of mutations to occur, the odds are simply astronomical for even one successful transition.

Another signature in the body that leads me to believe in ID is the discovery of nano-technology, which has revealed very tiny complex biological machinery such as the bacteria flagella motor with its rotary engine, drive shafts, and whip-like propeller. Such systems have been defined as irreducibly complex as you can see below

flagella

Michael Behe an American biochemist asserts that random genetic mutations and natural selection can not account for such complexity. We know from experience that when we find irreducibly complex systems such as internal combustion engines invariably intelligence played a roll. Thus using the idea of mutations and natural selection to explain new digital information and irreducibly complex systems would be an exotic explanation not based on the knowledge of cause and effect that we see today.

Thus the conclusion reached is that specified digital information encoded in DNA could not have arisen by any known natural cause. Ultimately intelligent design is not made from an argument of ignorance but is in inference to the best explanation. The structure of the argument is that there are no known naturalistic processes that have been demonstrated to produce the digital code necessary to produce the first life, whether through chance or law. Yet we do know of one cause sufficient to produce specified digital information and that cause is intelligence.

The Golden Chain of Redemption – Broken!

In one of my recent post about mans ability to freely reject or receive salvation, titled Predestination & the Doctrine of Election – Part 2 (Salvation), I was asked the following by one,  Nicholas Provan:

“Interesting, so how would you reconcile that view with the Golden Chain of redemption (as explained by most Calvinists)?”

For those who are unfamiliar with this term, it is referring to the Calvinist assertion of Romans 8:29-30 as the basis for God exclusively foreknowing, predestining, calling, justifying and glorifying someone before the beginning of time.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

I must admit, when I first read this scripture I got quite the headache trying to reconcile it with my existing beliefs; being someone that firmly believes everyone has been created with the free-will to receive the knowledge of God on the grounds that He has first revealed himself to us through his creation and his son Jesus. For days I chewed and chewed, reading over and over hoping something would click and I would finally be able to make some sense of it all. Fearing that perhaps I had been wrong all along; that maybe the only reason why I believed in God and others didn’t, was simply because He chose me over them.

So I suppose I owe an explanation of how I got here today – without reforming my faith that is. Over the years I have learned some valuable lessons when it comes to reading scripture. While many of us would like to treat the Bible as a piece of 21st century American literature, I have come to the reality that we can not approach the Bible as a superficial reading. Because the scripture is both foreign and ancient in relation to the English dialect, we must apply ourselves in a scholarly manner.

The quickest way to misinterpret a scripture is by isolating it. When seeking to understand the meaning of a passage it is necessary that we understand the context of the scripture; the surrounding body of text is often just as important to understanding a passage as the actual passage itself. That being said, I will begin my approach to Vv. 29-30 by first appealing to the preceding v.28; which I believe will ultimately offer immense insight into to understanding the rest of the chapter.

v.28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good to them that love him, to those who are called according to his purpose”

I would like to start off by addressing the second sentence in this passage, in the original Greek text it is translated word-for-word as such:

to those – according to – his purpose – being called – existing”

What initially stood out to me was the word – existing (eimi), which simply translates – “I am” or “to be” often used in the present tense to describes someones mood. This word eimi seems to be missing from most of the translations. When adding it into the mix of things we see the interpretation is slightly tweeked to read something like:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good to them that love him, to those who are existing in the call which he has purposed.”

While the the language in Vv. 29-30 are often interpreted as very exclusive. we notice that the language in V. 28 is rather inclusive – implying more of a free-will. This should be a red flag, indicating something has been misinterpreted in the translation.

Now that we have some context for Vv. 29-30, I would like to introduce another valuable lesson that I have learned over the years: That is the need to define a word in its original language, because English is not the original text of the NT, we must be careful not to assume that the interpretations in our Bibles are always going to retain the original meanings of a specific word. Often times there will be several distinctly different English word used interchangeably for just one Greek word.

If your going to be doing a study, one of the best ways for defining a words true meaning is by seeing the the context that a word is used in throughout multiple scriptures. Once we begin to apply this technique we begin to manifest the original definition.

Thus let us examine the word foreknow, which in Greek is proginisko – “to know before”. Proginosko is used a total of four other times throughout the NT; no where in the scripture is this word ever used to describe a relation between someone or something that doesn’t yet exist; rather it is used to describe a literal relation to something that is already in existence. In a sentence it would go something like this; “Did you ever meet Bob? Yeah I foreknew Bob since college” no where in the Bible is it ever used to say something like “Did you ever meet Bob? Yeah I foreknew him 10 years before he was even born.”

Acts 26:5

They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a pharisee.” we see here prognisko is being used to describe the Jews knowing Paul as a Pharisees who persecuted Christians, implying familiarity through a literal relation.

1 Peter 1:19-20

“..A lamb without blemish or defect. God foreknew him long before the creation of the world, but was revealed in the last time for your sakes” God knew Jesus long before the creation of the world, we see again the application of familiarity through actual relationship; the scripture is not saying God knew Jesus before He created him, its saying He had a relationship with Jesus before the world was created, yet He didn’t reveal him unto us until later when he appeared as the Messiah.

2 Peter 3: 15-17

“And remember our Lords patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him – speaking these things in all of his letters. Some of his commandments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different. Just as they do with other scripture and this will rest unto their destruction. Therefore beloved, foreknowing this, be aware; that you will not be carried away by the error of the lawless, that you should fall from your steadfastness .” Paul is saying, now that I have told you these things you are aware of them; thus he has manifest the truth to them that they might become aware of it and guard themselves when the time comes. We see foreknown happens after you are acquainted with something or someone, not before.

Romans 11:12

“God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew Just as the word was used in Acts to describe the Jews having foreknew Paul as a Pharisee. Its a literal relation to someone.

In light of all this  I interpret proginosko in V. 29 as referring to those whom God is acquainted with through relationship, with the emphasis on being known by God. Galatians 4:9 “but now, after that you have known God, or rather are known of God” both concepts are ultimately one in the same, but the emphasis is on God being acquainted with us, in this way we are foreknown by him.

One will thus ask the question – how then do we enter into this relationship with God?

1 Corinthians 8:13 “But if any man love God, the same in known of of him”

Thus we see “to love God” is interchangeable with “to be known by God” ergo we become foreknown through loving God. We are now beginning to see a seamless harmony between V. 28 and V. 29. Ultimately God knows and enters a relationship with those who choose to love him (obey his commands). Yet how could V.29 be referring to people entering a relationship with God when it is spoke in the past tense? – you might ask.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.. “

Isn’t God simply referring to a an act which has taken place in the past? If we turn to V.30 we notice something rather interesting “and whom he justified, them he also glorified” We see that this can’t be referring to something that has already taken place because the scripture tells us that we won’t actually be glorified until the resurrection! Then why is Paul speaking as though it has already happened?

To understand this conundrum we briefly turn our focus to the grammar of Ancient Greek: The tense of the word foreknow is aorist as opposed to the perfect or past tense (this is true of all the verbs used in Vv. 29-30), thus the verbs aren’t used to describe a past event that has already been concluded, rather it’s describing an ‘action without indicating it’s completion,’ meaning it’s dependent upon those who  choose to enter into the relationship with Him. Paul is simply elaborating on V.28  by explaining the process in which all things will work to the good of those who love Him. We also know this because in the Greek text the two verses are joined by the conjunction “because”, indicating that V.29 is elaborating on V.28. Essentially, to paraphrase what Paul is saying is:

For all things work to the good of those who love God, to those who are existing in the call which He has purposed. This is true because, those who love God (aka those known by God aka proginosko) are predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son that he might be the first born among many brethren.” Paul further explains the process of how God has a plan for those who love him “for whom i did predestinate,  them have I called through the Gospel: and whom I called, them I also justified through the Cross: and whom I justified, them I will also glorify on the day of my coming.”

In the proceeding V.33 we come across another interesting indication that Paul is not referring to individuals that have been saved according to the sovereign choice of God, but rather that he is speaking of all who willingly choose to follow and love him.

“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?”

In my aforementioned post I described how the word elect is used interchangeably for two different Greek words; there is eklektos and ekloge. Ekloge is used to describe those that are specifically selected out by the grace of God for a divine purpose (such as is described of Paul and Abraham). Eklektos is used to describe those who become God’s choice by freely receiving his general call which is extended to all (Matthew 22:14). The elect which Paul is mentioning in V.33 is eklektos, as opposed to the ekloge that is being used in the proceeding chapter which describes Israel’s election (Romans 9:11).

The scriptures are infallible even when it comes down to the slightest details. Thus If we apply ourselves with a open heart and honest desire to know the word of God, and in all sincerity seek the truth above all else, the revelation and knowledge of God will sing forth in harmony.

God Bless

God & Creationism – Quick Fact #1

oxygen&carbon

Fact: The oxygen produced during photosynthesis is used for cellular respiration. The carbon dioxide produced in cellular respiration is used in photosynthesis.

So if plants need the waste product of living organism to exist, and living organisms need the waste product of plants to exist, then they both had to be created at nearly the exact same time.. right?

Predestination & the Doctrine of Election – Part 2 (Salvation)

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It should be understood that God is the one who initiates salvation; for apart from God initiating salvation we are all like sheep gone astray. This is not to say that man does not exercise his free-will in choosing to reject or receive salvation, but only that it is God’s arm throughout history which continually stretches forth unto us; and thus salvation is ultimately born out of God’s will and not from the desire of man.  In John 1:12-13 we are to understand this relationship between God’s will and man’s free choice.

“But as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”

While we know that God extends his call to everybody, It should also be understood that he sovereignly elects people for his divine purpose; such as the apostle Paul and the nation of Israel. This doesn’t mean that God forces them into submission (as the history of Israel clearly illustrates), but rather he persuades them of his prevailing majesty by various different ways and methoods e.g. divine revelation or supernatural encounter; thus “to everyone who has been given much, much will be required.”

How then are we to reconcile the idea of God’s elect with the call of salvation extending unto all men? In order to understand this we first need to understand more about the elects purpose, for this we turn to John 1:6

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might be saved.”

We see that God does not elect people in order that they might simply enjoy salvation from a private booth; rather, they are vessels of mercy that bear witness to the glory of God. The elect are beacons of light through which God initiates salvation unto the world. We see how even Jonah in his day was sent to the Assyrian capital Nineveh to preach repentance among’st the gentiles. God’s election is ultimately reserved for more than that of a remnant, the elect of God are to bear the image of Christ and offer themselves as living sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel.

Now we know that God initially elected Israel as his chosen people, and yet through them rested the abundance of the world:

Romans 11:12

“Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the gentiles, how much more their fulness!”

Was it not also said unto Abraham?

“And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed

In the scripture the word elect is used interchangeably for two different Greek words: Ekloge and Eklektos. Up until now we have only been dealing with Ekloge. Ekloge occurs a total of 9 times in the NT, and is used to describe those that are specifically selected out by the grace of God for a divine purpose, those “whom he set apart while they were still in the womb” if you would. Ekloge is used primarily throughout Romans describing the election of Israel and is also used in Acts to describe Paul as a chosen vessel “for a vessel of Ekloge(choice) is this man to me.”

The word Eklektos occurs 23 times throughout the NT and can be used to describe those who become God’s choice by freely receiving his general call which is extended to all. For example, in the parable of the wedding feast Jesus says

“so go to the street corner and invite to the banquet anyone that you can find.. for many care called, but few however are Eklektos(chosen)”

this refers to man’s ability to partake in the election of God by freely responding to the gospel, which is the power of salvation to all that believe.

Both Ekloge and Eklektos represent the body of Christ, as such we are to be extensions of the Lord himself, we are his mouth piece, his instruments for publishing salvation unto all the world. God so closely identifies himself to his followers that we are in essence ambassadors for the Kingdom of Heaven, we are emissaries for the King himself that whoever will believe our message shall be saved.

Luke 10:16

“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

God has never excluded any from salvation; we must never think in this way, for God shows no partiality to men, but He is gracious unto all. Rather it is man that takes side against God; in doing so God allows the wickedness of man to be carried out, giving them over to depravity. Even so He is constantly stretching forth His hand in mercy, sending His Son that all might be saved.

2 Peter 3:9

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Amen!

Predestination & the Doctrine of Election – Part 1 (Introduction)

election

The doctrine of election is a central debate among’st many theologians and scholars today. Those who advocate the doctrine of election generally state that God dictates everything that happens through the sovereignty of his own will. That having foreseen the wickedness of his creation before the beginning of the world, He arbitrarily selected out those who would and wouldn’t obtain salvation. It’s the idea that God has predetermined everything that is going to happen, and nothing happens which He has not sovereignly ordained.

 The doctrine of election is commonly used to answer the philosophical question, why do some choose to believe in God while others don’t? Though the doctrine is inconsistent with many scriptures throughout the bible, one of the most common and compelling passages used in support of it is Acts 13: 48

 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”

I presume that ones initial interpretation of this reading (as mine was) is that salvation is ultimately a God given desire. However, when examining this scripture a little further, particularly in its original Greek text, we begin unraveling what could be Paul’s intended meaning. If we read the end of v.48 in its word-for-word Greek translation, it goes like this:

 “and – believed – as many as – were – appointed – to – life – eternal.

There’s two key words when studying this passage, first is the word believed; interpreted from the Greek word episteusan, which is derived from pisteuo – “to have faith in“. Secondly is the word appointed, which comes from the Greek tasso, it’s a military expression literally translated – “to assign” or even “to commission“. Notice the word for appointed here is not the word we find for predestined or foreordained, which is proorizo. Thus one could reasonably interpret this scripture to read something like:

“and as many as believed (had faith) were assigned to eternal life.”

 This translation parallels with the language of scripture throughout the bible:

John 3: 16

“For God so loved the world that whoever believes(has faith) in him, shall not perish but have life eternal”

Mark 16: 16

“Whoever believes(whoever has faith) and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe (have faith) will be condemned.”

The bible makes it quite clear, faith comes by hearing the word of God; and God gives man free-will in choosing whether to obey or disobey the word of the Lord. We further understand this truth in Jeremiah 18: 7-10

 “if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.”

This passage clearly illustrates the harmony between Gods sovereignty and mans free will. While its a common assumption that God foreknew every decision that man was ever going to make, this is not what the bible teaches us. God is sovereign over the affairs of man, He has not predetermined them, meaning He can do what He wants when He wants to do it, He could shine his glory down and reveal his power and make all the heathens call out to him in fear and trembling, but this is not what God desires, for he establishes the righteous through faith, as it says “the just shall live by faith”.

Ultimately God is orchestrating a divine work in the world, but this is not to say that He predetermines our choices. Rather He continually yields to will of man just as the prophet Jeremiah describes. In Genesis 6: 5-6 we understand that God neither predetermined nor foresaw the wickedness of his creation.

 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he made man on earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”

The Lord mourned and repented that He ever made man on the earth! This hardly depicts the creator who preordained everything that was ever going to happen, but rather reveals Gods unique vulnerability to the choices of his creation.

Those who advocate the doctrine of election will often argue that while Gods predetermination and man’s free-will are impossible to reconcile in the human mind, we simply need to receive it by faith. While I acknowledge there are qualities of God which our earthly minds can’t comprehend, I feel that in this case this argument is conveniently being used to bridge the gap between false doctrine and what the scripture actually teaches.